Contax Vario-Sonnar 4.5-5.6/100-300 for landscape

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backsidewalkaround Regular Member • Posts: 201
Contax Vario-Sonnar 4.5-5.6/100-300 for landscape
5

I have the lens for a little more than half a year now. More and more it feels like my arm or leg. I can't imagine going on a photo trip without it :-).

You might not like the lens itself: It's quite big and heavy, especially in combination with a mirrorless camera (in my case a Sony A7R III), but compared to other 300mm options it really isn't big at all. At least for me it works well: I can fit it in my large holster bag on camera with two other lenses. The weight doesn't bother me much.
It generally isn't a trouble free lens. Many owners report lens separation in the rear element. It is supposed to be curable by a japanese guy who offers the service of recementing the rear elements.

Knowing about that problem, I asked the seller of my lenses very specifically about it, so it wasn't one for me. I did have to get a second copy, though, because the first one was decentered. It's really sad, because it delivered noticably more micro contrast than my current copy. Also it didn't have zoom creep like my lens now has. It was a neewer version of the lens with a serial number starting at 84... .
Still for landscape the decentering bothered me too much (for portaiture or close-up work it wouldn't have mattered), so I sold it again for quite a bit less (telling the buyer all about it) and got another copy. It's an older copy starting with a 74... serial number. Its sharpness is distributed uniformly across the frame at all focal lengths. Color and contrast are great, just not as mind blowing as with my first copy. Still excellent.

It is very versatile with its focal range and it never disappoints. I love to do panorama shots using it at 100mm or sometimes even more. If an image is lacking every once in a while it's my fault, because I know that the lens delivers every time (in the second panorama below I messed up focussing (it was extremely cold and windy) - in the panorama you don't notice it unless zooming in).

Besides using it for landscape you can use it quite well for close-ups too, just pack one or two extension tubes und you might not need a macro-ish lens anymore (well true 1:1 macro you'll still need a dedicated lens, but for many close-up scenarios you won't be disappointed.

Recently I've been able to find some extraordinary weather conditions, so I can show you some of my results (if you like to see some more, you'll find them in my non-commercial hobby blog here):

Cintematic Winter

Islands in the sea of fog.

20°C below not counting the wind chill, but worth it.

Sunset. The glowing mountain in the back is Germany's highest peak (Zugspitze). It is 100km away.

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Rol Lei Nut Veteran Member • Posts: 5,448
Re: Contax Vario-Sonnar 4.5-5.6/100-300 for landscape
1

Nice!

It's one of my favorite lenses (also SN 74..., third sample being the keeper), though I don't use it as much as I should because of weight, lack of AF & automatic IBIS setting.

OP backsidewalkaround Regular Member • Posts: 201
Re: Contax Vario-Sonnar 4.5-5.6/100-300 for landscape

Rol Lei Nut wrote:

Nice!

It's one of my favorite lenses (also SN 74..., third sample being the keeper), though I don't use it as much as I should because of weight, lack of AF & automatic IBIS setting.

You're absolutely right: always having to set IBIS correctly (which I forget half of the time) really is a pain ... .
Like I said. The weight doesn't really bother me. I accept it as the weight of a light 100, a 200 and a 300mm lens in one.
I don't miss AF one bit for landscape, to the contrary, I find it much easier to set focus like I want it. 
What I'd love to have, though, is EXIF data.

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Sony a7R III Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM Art Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Sony FE 50mm F1.4 ZA Sony FE 200-600 F5.6-6.3 +1 more
fferreres Veteran Member • Posts: 6,716
Re: Contax Vario-Sonnar 4.5-5.6/100-300 for landscape
1

backsidewalkaround wrote:

I have the lens for a little more than half a year now. More and more it feels like my arm or leg. I can't imagine going on a photo trip without it :-).

You might not like the lens itself: It's quite big and heavy, especially in combination with a mirrorless camera (in my case a Sony A7R III), but compared to other 300mm options it really isn't big at all. At least for me it works well: I can fit it in my large holster bag on camera with two other lenses. The weight doesn't bother me much.
It generally isn't a trouble free lens. Many owners report lens separation in the rear element. It is supposed to be curable by a japanese guy who offers the service of recementing the rear elements.

Knowing about that problem, I asked the seller of my lenses very specifically about it, so it wasn't one for me. I did have to get a second copy, though, because the first one was decentered. It's really sad, because it delivered noticably more micro contrast than my current copy. Also it didn't have zoom creep like my lens now has. It was a neewer version of the lens with a serial number starting at 84... .
Still for landscape the decentering bothered me too much (for portaiture or close-up work it wouldn't have mattered), so I sold it again for quite a bit less (telling the buyer all about it) and got another copy. It's an older copy starting with a 74... serial number. Its sharpness is distributed uniformly across the frame at all focal lengths. Color and contrast are great, just not as mind blowing as with my first copy. Still excellent.

It is very versatile with its focal range and it never disappoints. I love to do panorama shots using it at 100mm or sometimes even more. If an image is lacking every once in a while it's my fault, because I know that the lens delivers every time (in the second panorama below I messed up focussing (it was extremely cold and windy) - in the panorama you don't notice it unless zooming in).

Besides using it for landscape you can use it quite well for close-ups too, just pack one or two extension tubes und you might not need a macro-ish lens anymore (well true 1:1 macro you'll still need a dedicated lens, but for many close-up scenarios you won't be disappointed.

Recently I've been able to find some extraordinary weather conditions, so I can show you some of my results (if you like to see some more, you'll find them in my non-commercial hobby blog here):

Cintematic Winter

Islands in the sea of fog.

20°C below not counting the wind chill, but worth it.

Sunset. The glowing mountain in the back is Germany's highest peak (Zugspitze). It is 100km away.

Confirms two things. That I have the right lens, but live in the wrong place

While there are better, modern lenses with higher contrast, I find that lenses many old lenses resolve around what I think is ideal for a 42MP camera. And after shooting with a 42MP camera for a few months, I seems to me it's about the limit of what I feel comfortable using, maybe 40MP to 50MP range, and definitely not 61MP or 80 MP.

At 42MP, I find myself focusing at the level of detail where often times, I can notice my own breathing and micro displacements in the focus plane. And due to the small detail, I need to be steady if to keep the shutter speeds I was used to. Likewise, the subject needs to move slower. I also note that oftentimes, the best would be to pan with my camera, that it's best with no IBIS if the shutter is slower, and that sharpness get too much attention vs the overall idea and look of the picture. While not related to the 100-300 directly, it hits a sweetspot between speed, weight, zoom, ergonomics (rapid change in FL), look of the image, colors, sharpness that is perfect for anything, from low resolution shots up to 42MP. Anything much sharper than the 100-300, or much faster, would be of very little practical advantage.

The only thing I'd love to see is a like Leica does, that the do a 20th anniversary edition, with the same exact formula, solve the creep and add EXIF for full axis auto IBIS by FL.

rich_cx139 Senior Member • Posts: 1,795
Re: Contax Vario-Sonnar 4.5-5.6/100-300 for landscape

Great pictures.

It is a great lens but one that is on the back burner for me only partly to do with the price but mainly to do with the rear elements separation issue.

Glad to hear though of the guy  in Japan who can fix this - must take a lot of work to rebuild, realign etc.  It is good to keep this calibrevof glass working.

Good shooting with your lens !

richard

bp_reid Regular Member • Posts: 138
Re: Contax Vario-Sonnar 4.5-5.6/100-300 for landscape

Thanks for posting these lovely images. That VS iS one I’d like to add to my C/Y Zeiss set.

fferreres Veteran Member • Posts: 6,716
Re: Contax Vario-Sonnar 4.5-5.6/100-300 for landscape

rich_cx139 wrote:

Great pictures.

It is a great lens but one that is on the back burner for me only partly to do with the price but mainly to do with the rear elements separation issue.

I find it's not that expensive but it's a small risk. When I bought mine, I wrote about the issue and asked for an inspection, and told him that if it has no separation, I will keep it. But if it had any signs of separation in the rear element I would return it. It worked, because the person knew how to check and has zero incentive, and a strong dis-incentive to ship something that will surely come back to him/her, in addition to two international shipping and the ebay comission. I paid the full price instead of Make Offer, and of course kept the lens. Can it separate in the future? It's a $150 cost, but if ANY problem develops, that's about how much it could cost if not even more, so it does not worry as it's the same risk I have with so many other lens.

Glad to hear though of the guy in Japan who can fix this - must take a lot of work to rebuild, realign etc. It is good to keep this calibrevof glass working.

You can actually ship just the rear element that takes 1 minute to unscrew for re-cementing. No rebuilding. No changing anything. It's actually much less risky and problematic than say, dirty blades.

Good shooting with your lens !

richard

OP backsidewalkaround Regular Member • Posts: 201
Re: Contax Vario-Sonnar 4.5-5.6/100-300 for landscape

fferreres wrote:

backsidewalkaround wrote:

I have the lens for a little more than half a year now. More and more it feels like my arm or leg. I can't imagine going on a photo trip without it :-).

You might not like the lens itself: It's quite big and heavy, especially in combination with a mirrorless camera (in my case a Sony A7R III), but compared to other 300mm options it really isn't big at all. At least for me it works well: I can fit it in my large holster bag on camera with two other lenses. The weight doesn't bother me much.
It generally isn't a trouble free lens. Many owners report lens separation in the rear element. It is supposed to be curable by a japanese guy who offers the service of recementing the rear elements.

Knowing about that problem, I asked the seller of my lenses very specifically about it, so it wasn't one for me. I did have to get a second copy, though, because the first one was decentered. It's really sad, because it delivered noticably more micro contrast than my current copy. Also it didn't have zoom creep like my lens now has. It was a neewer version of the lens with a serial number starting at 84... .
Still for landscape the decentering bothered me too much (for portaiture or close-up work it wouldn't have mattered), so I sold it again for quite a bit less (telling the buyer all about it) and got another copy. It's an older copy starting with a 74... serial number. Its sharpness is distributed uniformly across the frame at all focal lengths. Color and contrast are great, just not as mind blowing as with my first copy. Still excellent.

It is very versatile with its focal range and it never disappoints. I love to do panorama shots using it at 100mm or sometimes even more. If an image is lacking every once in a while it's my fault, because I know that the lens delivers every time (in the second panorama below I messed up focussing (it was extremely cold and windy) - in the panorama you don't notice it unless zooming in).

Besides using it for landscape you can use it quite well for close-ups too, just pack one or two extension tubes und you might not need a macro-ish lens anymore (well true 1:1 macro you'll still need a dedicated lens, but for many close-up scenarios you won't be disappointed.

Recently I've been able to find some extraordinary weather conditions, so I can show you some of my results (if you like to see some more, you'll find them in my non-commercial hobby blog here):

Cintematic Winter

Islands in the sea of fog.

20°C below not counting the wind chill, but worth it.

Sunset. The glowing mountain in the back is Germany's highest peak (Zugspitze). It is 100km away.

Confirms two things. That I have the right lens, but live in the wrong place

I'm sure near you are other wonderful photo spots that I'd be envious of. It's mostly about finding them in your neighborhood and finding the best light to catch them with your camera.

While there are better, modern lenses with higher contrast, I find that lenses many old lenses resolve around what I think is ideal for a 42MP camera. And after shooting with a 42MP camera for a few months, I seems to me it's about the limit of what I feel comfortable using, maybe 40MP to 50MP range, and definitely not 61MP or 80 MP.

I'm not sure. It is such a vast improvement to use the RIII over the original A7, I'd assume that I would still like the jump from 42MP to 62MP or 80MP. It may be true that at some point the lenses can't use that potential anymore, but so far I found the increase in MP and all the other improvements (BSI sensor, better sensitivity, etc.) a huge leap, even with most of my vintage lenses.

At 42MP, I find myself focusing at the level of detail where often times, I can notice my own breathing and micro displacements in the focus plane. And due to the small detail, I need to be steady if to keep the shutter speeds I was used to. Likewise, the subject needs to move slower. I also note that oftentimes, the best would be to pan with my camera, that it's best with no IBIS if the shutter is slower, and that sharpness get too much attention vs the overall idea and look of the picture. While not related to the 100-300 directly, it hits a sweetspot between speed, weight, zoom, ergonomics (rapid change in FL), look of the image, colors, sharpness that is perfect for anything, from low resolution shots up to 42MP. Anything much sharper than the 100-300, or much faster, would be of very little practical advantage.

Like I said: Certainly sharp enough FOR ME. Nice to know, that you see it the same way.

The only thing I'd love to see is a like Leica does, that the do a 20th anniversary edition, with the same exact formula, solve the creep and add EXIF for full axis auto IBIS by FL.

I'm sure it would find quite a lot of folks who'd appreciate it, IF the price weren't much higher than what is asked for for the Contax lens.

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Sony a7R III Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM Art Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Sony FE 50mm F1.4 ZA Sony FE 200-600 F5.6-6.3 +1 more
OP backsidewalkaround Regular Member • Posts: 201
Re: Contax Vario-Sonnar 4.5-5.6/100-300 for landscape

rich_cx139 wrote:

Great pictures.

It is a great lens but one that is on the back burner for me only partly to do with the price but mainly to do with the rear elements separation issue.

Glad to hear though of the guy in Japan who can fix this - must take a lot of work to rebuild, realign etc. It is good to keep this calibrevof glass working.

This is the website: Contax 100-300 Recementing

Good shooting with your lens !

richard

Thanks, will do

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 backsidewalkaround's gear list:backsidewalkaround's gear list
Sony a7R III Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM Art Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm F4 ZA OSS Sony FE 50mm F1.4 ZA Sony FE 200-600 F5.6-6.3 +1 more
OP backsidewalkaround Regular Member • Posts: 201
Re: Contax Vario-Sonnar 4.5-5.6/100-300 for landscape
1

bp_reid wrote:

Thanks for posting these lovely images. That VS iS one I’d like to add to my C/Y Zeiss set.

I sure am glad that I did. 
Here is what it can do up close (using macro rings):

These are growing in a garden of an abandoned house near my place. It was hard to find an angle that avoids all the branches and rotten leaves in between. So I'm not completely happy with them, but the lens shines nontheless with its wonderful bokeh.

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 backsidewalkaround's gear list:backsidewalkaround's gear list
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fferreres Veteran Member • Posts: 6,716
Re: Contax Vario-Sonnar 4.5-5.6/100-300 for landscape

backsidewalkaround wrote:

fferreres wrote:

backsidewalkaround wrote:

I have the lens for a little more than half a year now. More and more it feels like my arm or leg. I can't imagine going on a photo trip without it :-).

You might not like the lens itself: It's quite big and heavy, especially in combination with a mirrorless camera (in my case a Sony A7R III), but compared to other 300mm options it really isn't big at all. At least for me it works well: I can fit it in my large holster bag on camera with two other lenses. The weight doesn't bother me much.
It generally isn't a trouble free lens. Many owners report lens separation in the rear element. It is supposed to be curable by a japanese guy who offers the service of recementing the rear elements.

Knowing about that problem, I asked the seller of my lenses very specifically about it, so it wasn't one for me. I did have to get a second copy, though, because the first one was decentered. It's really sad, because it delivered noticably more micro contrast than my current copy. Also it didn't have zoom creep like my lens now has. It was a neewer version of the lens with a serial number starting at 84... .
Still for landscape the decentering bothered me too much (for portaiture or close-up work it wouldn't have mattered), so I sold it again for quite a bit less (telling the buyer all about it) and got another copy. It's an older copy starting with a 74... serial number. Its sharpness is distributed uniformly across the frame at all focal lengths. Color and contrast are great, just not as mind blowing as with my first copy. Still excellent.

It is very versatile with its focal range and it never disappoints. I love to do panorama shots using it at 100mm or sometimes even more. If an image is lacking every once in a while it's my fault, because I know that the lens delivers every time (in the second panorama below I messed up focussing (it was extremely cold and windy) - in the panorama you don't notice it unless zooming in).

Besides using it for landscape you can use it quite well for close-ups too, just pack one or two extension tubes und you might not need a macro-ish lens anymore (well true 1:1 macro you'll still need a dedicated lens, but for many close-up scenarios you won't be disappointed.

Recently I've been able to find some extraordinary weather conditions, so I can show you some of my results (if you like to see some more, you'll find them in my non-commercial hobby blog here):

Cintematic Winter

Islands in the sea of fog.

20°C below not counting the wind chill, but worth it.

Sunset. The glowing mountain in the back is Germany's highest peak (Zugspitze). It is 100km away.

Confirms two things. That I have the right lens, but live in the wrong place

I'm sure near you are other wonderful photo spots that I'd be envious of. It's mostly about finding them in your neighborhood and finding the best light to catch them with your camera.

I try to think like that. Not. It's more like being allergic to some food. I force myself to like it, trying all kinds of things.But it's just physical. I immediately feel part of the landscape where there are forrests, hills and mountains, and when I feel cold in my cheeks.

While there are better, modern lenses with higher contrast, I find that lenses many old lenses resolve around what I think is ideal for a 42MP camera. And after shooting with a 42MP camera for a few months, I seems to me it's about the limit of what I feel comfortable using, maybe 40MP to 50MP range, and definitely not 61MP or 80 MP.

I'm not sure. It is such a vast improvement to use the RIII over the original A7, I'd assume that I would still like the jump from 42MP to 62MP or 80MP. It may be true that at some point the lenses can't use that potential anymore, but so far I found the increase in MP and all the other improvements (BSI sensor, better sensitivity, etc.) a huge leap, even with most of my vintage lenses.

Yes, if they improve the IBIS to 9 stops. My comment isn't about me not liking the resolution, but mostly what I give up and how it affects my shooting. I now delete good shots that'd keep with my 12MP Canon. Or I don't take some shots, for the same reason I'd delete them. So while this is in the mind, it has conditioned me a bit.

At 42MP, I find myself focusing at the level of detail where often times, I can notice my own breathing and micro displacements in the focus plane. And due to the small detail, I need to be steady if to keep the shutter speeds I was used to. Likewise, the subject needs to move slower. I also note that oftentimes, the best would be to pan with my camera, that it's best with no IBIS if the shutter is slower, and that sharpness get too much attention vs the overall idea and look of the picture. While not related to the 100-300 directly, it hits a sweetspot between speed, weight, zoom, ergonomics (rapid change in FL), look of the image, colors, sharpness that is perfect for anything, from low resolution shots up to 42MP. Anything much sharper than the 100-300, or much faster, would be of very little practical advantage.

Like I said: Certainly sharp enough FOR ME. Nice to know, that you see it the same way.

I also like the texture of photos.

The only thing I'd love to see is a like Leica does, that the do a 20th anniversary edition, with the same exact formula, solve the creep and add EXIF for full axis auto IBIS by FL.

I'm sure it would find quite a lot of folks who'd appreciate it, IF the price weren't much higher than what is asked for for the Contax lens.

I'd pay maybe $1000. No way Zeiss will make it, so I would have to wait 20 years and hope to still be around to grab it for $1000 B y then, we may be shooting in 4D.

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